Lawyers don’t even make it in the top 5 paying jobs in Australia. Lawyers earn an average yearly salary income of $114,615. Female lawyers earn an average yearly salary income of $104,934, whilst male lawyers earn an average yearly salary income of $129,184, according to 2018/19 occupation based average salary by the Australia Taxation Office (ATO).

The ATO have released the statistics report on the average income based on occupation (and state) for income year 2018/19.

The report is based upon millions of 2019 income tax returns in respect to millions individuals, and hundreds of thousands of corporations.

In a nutshell, the report reveals the top paying jobs or occupations in Australia, and in each State and Territory.

The report also reveals the gender gap in income between males and females for certain occupations.

Top 10 Highest Earning Jobs in Australia

Occupation Average Yearly
1. Surgeon $394,303
2. Anaesthetist $386,065
3. Internal Medicine Specialist $304,752
4. Financial Dealer $275,984
5. Psychiatrist $235,558
6. Other medical practitioners $222,933
7. Judicial or other legal professionals $188,798
8. Mining Engineer $184,507
9. CEO or Managing Director $164,896
10. Engineering Manager $159,940

Lawyer Salary Guide in Australia | How Much Do Lawyers Earn in Australia?

A lawyer salary in Australia ranges on the level of experience and type of lawyer. According to Payscale, based on 432 salary profiles as at March 2022, the average base salary of lawyers ranges from as low as $52,000, with a median of $69,264, and up to $121,000.

Lawyers include solicitors, barristers, Magistrates and Judges in Australia.

How much do lawyers earn or how much do lawyers make in Australia?

Lawyer associate salary or lawyers with 1 to 4 years experience earn an average on $66,152 based on three hundred and sixteen salaries according to Payscale.

Lawyers with 5 to 9 years of experience earn an average salary of $96,907 which is based on 76 salaries by Payscale.

Lawyers with 10 to 19 years of experience earn an average salary of $116,653 which is based on 35 salaries.

Lawyers late in their careers with 20 years or more experience earn an average salary of $124,000 per year.

What type of Lawyers Earn the Most?

Below is a table outlining the average salary income of solicitors, Magistrates and Judges based on gender for financial years 2018/2019 issued by the ATO.

Average salary income for 2018/19 financial year- Judges, Magistrates and solicitors based on gender.

Occupation Female Male
Judge $350,182 $394,265
Magistrate $280,869 $260,315
Lawyer (Solicitor) $104,934 $129,184
Intellectual property lawyer, Patent or Trade Mark Lawyer $102,247 $133,089

The above table of statistics show that female Judges are getting paid less than male Judges, whilst female Magistrates are getting paid much more than male Magistrates.

Graduate Lawyer Salary

Junior lawyers or entry level lawyers or attorney’s in Australia include lawyers who have just graduated with less than 1 year of experience post-admission earn an average of of $58,676 according to Payscale after analysing twenty-three salaries. This figure includes bonuses, and overtime pay.

Barrister Salary Australia- How Much Does a Barrister Make in Australia?

How much do barristers make and what is the salary of a barrister? Below is a table outlining the average income of barristers based on gender.

Average salary income for 2018/19 financial year- Barristers

Occupation Female Male
Barrister $49,142 $99,671

The above table shows that in the same year, female barristers are getting paid much less than male barristers, creating a significant gender inequality.

Corporate Lawyer Salary

How much do corporate lawyers make? According to Talent.com the average corporate lawyer salary is $122,989 per annum which converts to be $63.07 an hour, with entry level positions commencing at $100,000 per annum. The most experienced corporate lawyers earn up to an average of about $150,000 per annum in 2022.

In contrast, according to Payscale, the average annual salary of a corporate lawyer in Australia in 2022 based of level of experience is as follows:

  • Graduate corporate lawyer or entry level corporate lawyer with less than 1 year of experience: $69,524.
  • A corporate with 1 to 4 years of experience: $76,629.
  • A corporate lawyer with 4 to 9 years of experience: $114,000.
  • A corporate lawyer with 10 to 19 years of experience: $139,754.
  • A corporate lawyer with 20 or more years of experience: $160,000.

What Do Lawyers Do?

What do lawyers do depends on the type of law the lawyer specialises in. Some lawyers do the jack of all trades commonly referred to as a general lawyer (similar to a GP doctor). Other lawyers specialise in only one area of law and is similar to a specialist doctor. Whatever the area of law that a lawyer specialises in, all lawyers still have some common responsibilities and roles that always overlap.

All lawyers know the law that the lawyer chooses to work in and applies that law to the facts of the situation their client is in. The lawyer then advises on how the law applies to their clients’ situation and explores all legal avenues available to their clients in order to then problem solve and guide on the best path to take. The lawyer is required to also advise on all the pros and cons of their client’s situation as well as on all the legal rights and obligations their client is subjected to.

Lawyers don’t all go to court. Some lawyers are in-house advisors only who do not appear in court and do not do any advocacy, while other lawyers including commercial litigation and criminal lawyers regularly appear in court to represent their clients best interests.

What do criminal lawyers do? Criminal lawyers do a multitude of things for their clients, justice and the courts. This includes acting in the best interest of clients, honest and courteous in their dealing, competently, diligently and promptly to provide legal services as reasonably as possible, avoid any compromise with the dignity and professional independence of being a lawyer, and to follow the Solicitors’ conduct rules.

Top 3 Jobs Where Females Earn More than Males

The below is an outline on the top 3 jobs that females are dominating in with a higher yearly average income than males in the financial year 2018/19.

Jobs where Females Earn More than Males

Occupation Females Average Income Male Average Income
Author $80,213 (average taxable income) $74,245 (average taxable income)
Magistrate $280,869 (salary) $260,315 (Salary)
Pro Surfer $117,548 (average taxable income) $57,968 (average taxable income)

Average Income Across Males and Females

The below table outlines the average income and median income across males and females between financial years 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Average and Median Pay Across Male and Female

2017/18 2018/19
Female Pay Male Pay Female Pay Male Pay
Average Income $49,922 $71,917 $51,382 $73,218
Median Income $39,058 $54,252 $40,547 $55,829

The Highest Paying Areas in Australia

The following outlines the highest average earning areas or postcodes in Australia for 2018/19 financial year.

Highest earning areas in Australia

2019/19 Income Year
State Average Yearly Pay
NSW (Post Code: 2028)

Double Bay

Victoria (Post Code: 3142)

Hawksburn, Toorak

NSW (Post Code: 2027)

Darling Point, Edgecliff, HMAS Rushcutters, Point Piper

NSW (Post Code: 2030)

Dover Heights, HMAS Watson, Rose Bay North, Vaucluse, Watsons Bay.

NSW (Post Code: 2025)


Western Australia (Post Code: 6011)

Cottesloe, Peppermint Grove

Victoria (Post Code: 3944)


NSW (Post Code: 2023)

Bellevue Hill


What are the Sources of Personal Income?

For the financial year 2016/17, 13.7 million people submitted their tax returns. From this, the aggregate person income was $856.2 billion.

From that, the median pay amounted to $48,360, which had increased by 1.4% from the year prior.

Income as an employee was the largest contributor to the total income, being 87.2%, which had reduced from 87.6% the year prior.

76.9% of those people received income as an employee, as their main income course. This was an increase from the year prior (76.7%). Employee income is considered their main source of pay.

The largest income source was also employee income- it had a median of $49,083. This was an increase from the previous year (by 1.4%).

The second highest income source was income derived from superannuation. This income source had a median of $20,669 (being a 3.7% increase from the previous year).

What’s the Statistics on Jobs and Employment in Australia?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveal that in 2016/17 financial year, 19.2 million people had ‘job relationships’.

From this, 89.5% of jobs were employees, whilst 10.5% of jobs were ‘owner managers’. 74.8% were jobs from the private sector, and 17% were jobs from the public sector.

In the same financial year 2016/17, the ABS outline that the highest employee jobs were people in the age bracket 25 to 29, comprising 2.6 million roles. Amongst this group, males held 52.2% of the jobs, while females held a little less at 47.8%.

As at June 2020, estimate of employment increased by 210,800. Between May and June of 2020, there’s been a 249,500 people increase in part-time employment, with a 38,100 people decrease in full-time employment.

Which Industries Have the Most Jobs?

For the financial year 2016/17, the following industries hold the highest number of jobs in Australia, by order from first to last.

Top 5 industries with the most jobs

1. Social Assistance and Health Care
2. Retail Trade
3. Administrative and Support Services
4. Retail Trade
5. Education & Training
Have a question? Ask our award winning team of criminal lawyers in Sydney, we offer free consultations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the answers to some of the most common and interesting questions.

How Do I Know What Type of Lawyer I Need?

The type of lawyer you will need will depend on the type of legal issue you’re faced with.

For example, if you live in Sydney, and you’re facing a criminal charge, you’ll need to get in touch with experienced Sydney criminal lawyers.

If you’re purchasing a business or property, you’ll need to get in touch with a business or property lawyer.

Some people often go straight to a general lawyer.

A general lawyer is similar to a GP doctor, where the GP will have general expertise and knowledge, but for something more complex, you will be referred to a specialist. This concept also applies to lawyers.

Some lawyers practice across all or most areas of law, including property, family law, commercial law, traffic and criminal law.

However, other lawyers specialise only in one or two areas of law. Those who specialise only in a particular area of law, such as criminal law will most likely have the most amount of knowledge and skill in that area. This will be due to the fact that they regularly work in that particular area of law, developing a high level of knowledge and experience.

What is The Best Law Firm in Australia?

There are many law firms across our nation. From large, medium to small, practicing in various areas of law to specialising in only one area of law.

The best law firm in Australia will depend on many factors, including the area of law it specialises in, capability of providing a highly personalised service at an affordable costs, and the level of experience, knowledge and skill-set of the law firm.

The best law firm in Australia will ultimately depend on the market that the law firm caters to.

A person who has been injured at work, and left incapable of earning an income will need a compensation law firm.

A person charged with a criminal offence will need a criminal law firm.

And, a person who is going through a separation or divorce will need a family law firm.

There are many great law firms in Australia, the best law firm for you and your individual case will the one that can provide you the greatest amount of value at an affordable price. The value it should provide includes, the level of skill, experience, knowledge, and time it can spend on your case. It also includes, transparency and level of communication.

Some law firms will help you pick them for being the best by working hard to win awards to reflect their excellence in the profession.

Do All Criminal Lawyers Go To Court?

Experienced criminal lawyers appear in court almost regularly, representing clients across all criminal matters including murder, drugs, assaults, fraud, and even traffic cases.

All criminal lawyers usually go to court for their clients because a criminal charge issued by police always requires the client to attend court to face the allegations. In those circumstances, a criminal lawyer usually represents the charged person in court to protect their clients’ rights and interests in order to put their clients in the best possible position.

Criminal lawyers’ will also speak on behalf of their clients in court. This means that their clients won’t need to speak in court, unless electing to give evidence in court in a trial or hearing.

Amongst all the types of lawyers, including commercial, civil, compensation, family, property to criminal lawyers, the lawyers who appear in court the most often, usually every weekday are criminal lawyers.

A good criminal lawyer is a well trained court advocate who is basically similar to a barrister.

How Much Does a Criminal Lawyer Cost in Australia? Lawyer Hourly Rate and Fixed Fees

A criminal lawyer costs range depending on his or her level of experience and expertise in criminal law. Generally, a criminal lawyer with 1-3 years of experience charge at a per hour rate of about $300-$400. A more senior lawyer hourly fee will be about $500-$600. A Partner or Director level lawyer hourly cost will be about $700 to $800 per hour.

The amount a case is charged will then depend on how much time is needed to spend on the case. This depends on the complexity of the case, how large the brief of evidence is, and how many times the criminal lawyer is required to appear in court. Most criminal lawyers can provide clients with fixed fees for criminal cases which work out cheaper than being charged by the hour.

What is the Difference Between Lawyer and Attorney?

Lawyer and attorney are often used interchangeably, and is considered to be the same. But they are not exactly the same.

In Australia, a lawyer is considered both solicitor and barrister who has a valid practicing certificate to be allowed to practice as a lawyer in Australia.

A solicitor and barrister are considered to have different, and in some occasions overlapping roles.

A solicitor is a type of lawyer who provides legal advice, guidance and preparation in clients’ cases rather than court appearances. Some solicitors also do attend court and conduct an advocacy role, but not all.

A barrister is a type of lawyer who predominantly conducts advocacy in court, including trials.

An experienced criminal lawyer on the other hand often conducts the work of both roles, namely in-court advocacy and advice for clients.

Unlike other lawyers, criminal lawyers generally have a high level of expertise in court appearance skills because they regularly appear in court for criminal cases.

Attorney is a word that isn’t commonly used in Australia as it is in America. In Australia, the term ‘attorney’ is generally referred to as a solicitor.

In America an attorney is considered an attorney at law, and is someone who’s passed the bar exam with permission to practice law. Americans do not differentiate between solicitor and lawyer. They refer to both as attorney.

What is the Best Type of Lawyer? Top Lawyers in Australia

The best type of lawyer suited to you will depend on your legal issue.

If you’re charged for a criminal offence by police, the best type of lawyer will no doubt be an experienced criminal lawyer.

If you receive a letter of demand to pay a sum of money, or you’re being sued, the best type of lawyer will be a civil or commercial lawyer.

If you’re a corporation, and you’re having tax issues, the best type of lawyer will be a tax lawyer.

After you’re aware of the type of legal issue you are facing, you will be able to determine the best type of lawyer. But before deciding on that lawyer, you should do some research to ensure the lawyer you are intending to go with, is one with experience, transparency and integrity. These values are what makes the best type of lawyer.

What Type of Lawyer Earns the Most? | Highest Paid Lawyers Australia

In Australia, according to seek the below is a list of the type of lawyers who earn the most on average in 2018:

  1. General-In-House Lawyers came first, at an average annual salary of $128,988.
  2. Constructions Lawyers came second highest, at an average annual salary of $124,041.
  3. Corporate & Commercial Lawyers come third highest, at an average annual salary of $118,558.
  4. Tax Lawyers came fourth highest, at an average annual salary of $118,212.

What are the Different Types of Lawyers? What Types of Lawyers are There?

There are many types of lawyers in Australia. Each type of lawyer has a different role which generally involve different legislation and laws. Sometimes, the laws may overlap.

The following are some of the different types of lawyers:

  1. Criminal lawyer: a criminal lawyer’s role involves the criminal justice system.
  2. Property lawyer: a property lawyer’s role predominantly involves dealing with residential and commercial properties and contract law.
  3. Commercial or corporate lawyer: a commercial or corporate lawyers’ role involves a focus on companies and commercial transactions. This also crosses over into contract law.
  4. Immigration lawyer: an immigration lawyers’ role involves a focus on migration in and out of Australia.
  5. Personal injury and compensation lawyer: this type of lawyer is focused on assisting people to being reimbursed, as much as possible, to their pre-accident/injury self due to the negligence of someone else.
  6. Family lawyer: a family lawyer’s role is focused on divorces, child custody disputes and property disputes arising from the same.

How Much Does a Lawyer Cost? How Much Does a Solicitor or Lawyer Cost?

How much is a lawyer? How much a lawyer or solicitor charges per hour will depend on the type of lawyer and level of experience.

There are varying levels of lawyer levels based on experience.

Lawyer Levels

So how much do lawyers cost in Australia? And what is a lawyers fee per hour in Australia? A solicitor in Sydney of up to 3 years experience may range from $300-$400 per hour.

A criminal lawyer in Sydney with at least 5-6 years experience may range from $400-$500 per hour.

A senior associate of at least 7-years experience may range from $500-$600 per hour.

A principal or director of a law firm may range from $700-$800 per hour.

When engaging a solicitor, the solicitor or lawyer is required to provide you with a quote of how much he/she will charge per hour for an agreed extent of work before commencing the work. This gives you as a client an opportunity to agree or go elsewhere.

Fees should always be transparent. Many solicitors and lawyers fail to be clear and transparent of legal fees. Some solicitors will be able to provide a fixed fee for an agreed amount of work.

With over 40 years combined experience, our team of expert criminal lawyers Sydney have achieved a proven track record of exceptional results in some of Australia’s most serious cases involving Drugs, Murder, Assaults, Fraud, and all forms of Sexual assault charges.

Who is the Best Barrister in Australia?

There are a great many number of best rated barristers in Australia, some given more media attention than others. However, the media attention given does not necessarily correlate to being the best.

Many barristers with little to no media attention are also considered at the top.

The below is a list of some of the best barristers in Australia:

  1. Grant Brady SC. He is a silk, and it’s his passion for criminal law and justice that has placed him at the top as an excellent District and Supreme Court trial barrister. He is considered the best amongst the best for his cross examination skills, and ability to win.
  2. Bret Walker SC. Mr Walker is also a silk, and considered one of, if not the best appeals barrister in the nation, possibly the world.
  3. Winston Terracini SC. Mr. Terracini, also a silk, has won some of the nation’s most high-profile trials. He is well known for his cross-examination in trials.
  4. Ian Temby QC. This is a silk, who has earned a reputation for the term a ‘living legend’.
  5. Margaret Cuneen SC. She is also a silk and one of the best barristers in Australia. Her sheer determination and high intellect combined with her experience makes her a force to be reckoned with.
  6. Lester Fernandez. This is an exceptionally clever barrister who has the ability to turn a seemingly un-winnable case into a winner. He fights hard in and out of the court room.
  7. Stephen Lawrence. Mr. Lawrence has a passion for justice. His courtroom abilities as a barrister in Australia reflects his strong moral values and hard work.

How Much Do Criminal Lawyers Earn In Australia?

So how much do criminal lawyers really make in Australia? The average annual salary for a criminal lawyer is $72,075, according to PayScale.

The annual salary for a criminal defence lawyer in Australia can vary from $50,000 to $150,000.

The extent of salary for a criminal lawyer will depend on his/her experience and talent as a criminal lawyer.

A criminal lawyer with up to 1-year experience can range from $50,000-$62,000.

A criminal lawyer with up to 4-years experience can range from $65,000-$80,000.

A criminal lawyer with 5-9-years experience can range from $85,000-$100,000.

A criminal lawyer with 10-20-years experience can range from $100,000-$150,000.

How Many Years to Become a Lawyer in Australia | How to Become a Criminal Lawyer in Australia

How long does it take to become a lawyer in Australia? To be a lawyer in Australia it usually takes between 5 to 6 years to become a fully admitted lawyer. This includes completed a law degree, graduating, completing the practical legal training component and the advanced diploma in legal practice before being admitted as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of Australia.

So, how to become a lawyer in Australia? You must complete the above tasks of study and practical legal training, and obtain your post graduate diploma in legal practice in order to finally be an admitted lawyer with a valid practising certificate issued by the Law Society.

The College of Law in Australia facilitate the training and further education post completion of the law degree from University.

Once you are admitted as a lawyer, you are allowed to then give clients’ legal advice and represent people in court under the supervision of a principal lawyer.

How Many Lawyers in Australia?

According to the National Profile of Solicitors report of 2020, in the preceding 9-years, there’s an increase of over 45% in the number of lawyers in Australia. As at this report, there are 83,643 solicitors across Australia. This figure is 26,066 more than in 2011.

Most solicitors practising in Australia work in private practice comprising of 67%.

Published on 28/02/2020

AUTHOR Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.

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